Newcastle Morning Herald transcriptions and Hunter Valley enlistment and death details for January 14-20, 1918.
The following official summary of casualties of members of the Australian Imperial Force reported by cable, was issued by the Defence Department on Sunday morning:-
Dead - 41,839; Missing - 1,568; Prisoners of War - 3,026; Wounded - 114,434; Sick - 66,189; Casualty not Specified - 212. Total - 227,268.
The figures shown do not actually represent the totals reported, but only as published in the casualty lists issued to the date specified.
Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commandant, reports:- The enemy raided a post south-eastward of Armentieres. A few of our men are missing. Hostile artillery was active in the St. Julien area, and south-westward of Hargicourt.
Our aeroplanes carried out bombing and machine-gunning incessantly on Sunday. They dropped 400 bombs on the large ammunition dump near Roulers, and billets, hutments, and a railway junction. Machine-guns attacked a party of the enemy engaged in extinguishing a large fire, causing casualties. The men scattered, and the fire was left to burn. Eight hostile machines were brought down, and three driven down. Three of ours are missing.
Our squadrons made a most successful raid on Germany at daylight against a railway station and munition factories at Karlsruhe, in the Rhine Valley. They dropped one and a quarter tons with excellent results. Bursts were observed on buildings, and a siding to the main railway junction at the centre of the town, the railway workshops, and a smaller junction at Karlsruhe. Photographs confirm that there was a large fire in factories alongside the railway.
The anti-aircraft fire was very heavy, and several hostile machines unsuccessfully attacked our formation. All of ours reached the objectives, and returned safely.
We repulsed a strong raid north-east of Armentieres. We raided north of Lens, and bombed dugouts and took prisoners.
Amsterdam reports that the Germans are employing Italian prisoners on defensive works in Flanders under harsh conditions, and within artillery range.
A warm rain driven before a gale, drenching the front, has transformed Flanders into a quagmire.
Mr. C. E. W. Bean, the official Australian correspondent at British Headquarters in France, telegraphs:- The Australian front, indeed the whole of the western front, during the last week has been under the grip of severe cold. The cold winds which pass overland are somewhat tempered to the men dug in in the trenches. For several nights, it is reported that there were heavy frosts, followed by a snowstorm, as just before Christmas. Many roads are impassable, blocked up by great drifts of snow. Elsewhere the roads were as hard as iron, and as slippery as glass. The thaw following rendered the roads temporarily unusable, breaking into holes of mud.
The Australian troops, long inured to all vicissitudes of climate, are enduring the severity of the weather with the utmost cheerfulness. The roads everywhere are frozen inches deep, and ice skating in places is a popular pastime. In one locality, two Frenchmen, with keen business instinct, flooded the fields before the frost, and subsequently hired out skates at one franc an hour. Sickness in the trenches is remarkably low. The men are wrapped up like Antarctic explorers, and remain hearty and fit.
It is thick snow over all the battle lines and No Man's Land patrols at night crawled about dressed in white overalls, hunting with added zest the enemy parties similarly camouflaged. The Australian snow patrols adapt pyjamas, but the enemy generally prefer long smocks, when they appear at all. Our rule over the whole stretch of No Man's Land is absolute while the ground is frozen. The light through the snow betrays the secrets of positions to the aeroplanes. Consequently the day following a snowstorm is marked with great air activity. Our squadrons are mostly unchallenged by the enemy. Snow has now disappeared from the trenches, turning the released ground into heavy mud.
At the meeting of the Newcastle Council on Monday night, Alderman Christie moved that the necessary action be taken to change the name of Reuss-street, such street to be known hereafter as Kilgour-avenue. He said it was up to the council to practise what they preached in respect to anything German. The name of the street sounded very like German to him, and the council should see that everything belonging to them was British. He did not know the gentleman after whom the street was called, but he understood that it had been so called since 1878.
Alderman Hall said he thought before they took any such action they should first of all consult the Merewether Council, as portion of the street was in that municipality. Mr. Reuss, after whom the street was called, was the first surveyor to the Merewether Estate. He belonged to a very old Australian family, and he was not a German.
Mr. E. Scott-Holland, the town clerk, said Mr. Merewether had told him that he would be very sorry if the name of the street were changed, as it was called after one of his father' s oldest friends. He understood that Mr. Reuss was a German.
After further discussions, the motion was carried.
In a letter to Mr. H. Wilkinson, of Dudley, upon the death in action of his son, the late Acting-sergeant Vincent Brown-Wilkinson, Brigadier A. Jobson writes that the deceased soldier came under his notice, and he was much impressed with his capacity as a signaller. In that work with “Maitland’s Own” Battalion, and at the battle of Messines, Sergeant Wilkinson had a large share in that good work. "He was a very good soldier," said Brigadier-General Jobson, and I am indeed sorry to hear of his death, and wish you to accept my warm sympathy. His record is one of which you have every right to be proud, for he was not only a soldier but a man in every sense." The late Sergeant Wilkinson was employed with the Newcastle City Electrical Department prior to enlisting, and was then in the fourth year of his apprenticeship. He was highly popular with the officials of the department, and his ability was rated very high.
Mrs. Gray, of Greta, has received official notification that the Distinguished Conduct Medal was awarded to her husband, the late Private M. Gray, for an act of bravery on the battlefield shortly before he met his death. The notification states that the decoration was awarded "for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, in rushing a hostile machine gun on his own initiative, killing the gunner, and capturing the gun. Had he not done so, our advance would have been held up. He was subsequently wounded."
At evensong In St. Augustine's Church on Sunday, a marble tablet, in memory of the late Lieutenant C. T. M. Heath, M.C., was unveiled by Lieutenant E. M. Wright, son of the rector, at the special request of the deceased officer's parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. Heath, of the Merewether Public School. The rector said the prayer of dedication.
Lieutenant Wright having unveiled the tablet with the usual invocation, said that though not in the same branch of the service, it was with gratification that he took part with the congregation in doing honour to the memory of a gallant officer who had so nobly made the great sacrifice. It was love of country and realisation of its danger that made the late Lieutenant Heath give up his civil occupation and join the ranks of the Australian Imperial Forces. By hard work, zealous efforts, and thorough devotion to duty, he won a commission in an artillery brigade. Lieutenant Heath arrived in England late in 1916, and early in 1917 crossed over to France. There, in front of the foe, his work won for him the high esteem of his commanding officer, brother officers, and men. He faced danger in a fearless manner, and passed through many trying ordeals. Not long before he fell he had received his second star as full lieutenant, but his military career, so nobly commenced and carried on, was early brought to an end. On the 26th September last he went over the parapet with the second division as forward observation officer to his battery, to watch the effects of its fire, and direct its further actions, and so well did he perform his duty that his work was brought under the notice of his brigadier, who at once recommended Lieutenant Heath for the military cross. It was while returning to his battery that he was struck down by a high explosive shell. When the officer commanding the division heard of his death he said that he could ill-afford to lose the services of so useful and gallant an officer, and one who had so worthily upheld the good name of Australia.
Sir, - We have had two brave lads who have been overseas doing their bit and been wounded, and returned home, and after being home, passed away, and they gave them a military funeral. They had a band in the first case, but in the second case, that of the late Lance-corporal F. Newburn, they could not get a band at all for him, although we have one at Merewether. I see that the 16th Band turned out to the military funeral of the late Private Bagnell, who lost his life at the baths the other day. I hope that the Returned Soldiers' Association will take the matter up, and see if something cannot be done to give our heroes a fitting funeral such as they deserve. - I am, etc., W. Field.
Thomas James Conn, Aberdare; Daniel Crowley, Belford; Cherrington Collins Groves, Wickham; Bertram Ernest Hawken, East Maitland; Arthur William Horsley, Toronto; Francis William Langsford, Dunolly; Arthur Holden Lindeman, Gresford; Ernest Frederick Lohse, Newcastle; Cecil John McDowell, Carrington; John Hunter Miller, New Lambton; Martin Thomas Rumbel, Salisbury; Jack Lewis Street, Gloucester.
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